Robertson’s Rants: So…Heritage Classic, Eh?

See what I did there? (Sorry.)Anyway, so like all hockey fans living in Calgary, I was keenly waiting for the Heritage Classic announcement on Wednesday, curious what the Flames and Habs would dig out of their closets. Ken King had promised something from Calgary’s deep hockey past, which had me thinking of the Calgary Tigers, who played the Habs in the city’s first Stanley Cup Final in 1924; sure enough, the Flames delivered precisely that, while the Habs went conservative after a year and a half of blasts from the past that ranged from the elegant (1910-11) to the eyesore (1912-13). Their only change was to revert to the numbering and lettering style they used in their final years at the Forum, in the ’80s and ’90s. Some have complained that they lacked imagination, saying they should’ve gone with one of their early white sweaters, but to hell with it: the Habs have given us enough retro nightmares to last a lifetime, thanks, though I wouldn’t have said no to their 1924-25 “globe” sweater, which they wore after beating the Tigers for the Cup.

Which brings me back to that Flames/Tigers jersey. Now, you know me, I have a tremendous amount of respect for the game’s past, and fascination with the way things used to be. I’m also a jersey collector: I own 18 jerseys now, and I’m sure to add more later. I own the Habsbarberpole and make no apologies for it. That being said, the Habs were wise to leave the barberpole in the pre-Great War era, where it belongs, and on a similar note, the Flames might have been wise to go with a design that’s less…well, garish. See, the problem with both the barberpole and the Flaming Tigers there is that back in 1912/1924, we didn’t have post-space-age fabrics, vibrant dyes, HDTV cameras, television floodlights, and white painted ice: it was coloured wool, sunlight, natural ice, and your own two eyes. The Sens are trying to evoke their old barberpoles with their current third, and it’s the same problem: it’s just too much of an eyesore in the modern environment.

Don’t get me wrong, I love what the Flames have done here in principle, but in practice, I’m deeply concerned that it’s going to look like hell; it certainly doesn’t show well in the August sun, though some Flames bloggers assure me that it looks better in person than it does on a computer screen. Problem is, that’s where most people are going to see it: on their TVs or computers. There’s a half a percent chance I might go to the game myself, being local and being a Hitmen season-ticket holder (side note: how awesome is it that the Hitmen are going to be playing outside the day after the Flames do? I hope they also go into the wayback machine, maybe pull out the sweaters of the first Calgary junior WHL team, the Buffaloes; Lord knows the Pats have the history in spades), but I imagine it’ll be far too rich for my blood; more likely, I’ll be watching from my couch on my HDTV, and…oh, man. It’s gonna be a trip. I also can’t wait for the first Flaming Tigers sweater I pass in the hall this year at the University. I fear for my eyesight already.

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Since it came up on the show this week, as well, a brief word about Chinook winds: about three times a year, warm winds descend from the Rocky Mountains – by a process I still don’t understand, even after reading the Wikipedia article – inducing significant temperature spikes for a handful of days. The phenomenon isn’t unique to southern Alberta, but it’s far and away more prevalent here than anywhere else. While the usual effect is simply to bring the temperature from around -15°C to about the freezing point, melting the snow and making for hellish driving conditions after it refreezes, I do remember one winter growing up in Drumheller, an hour and a half from Calgary, where the temperature actually got up to about +10°C, which was truly remarkable. That being said, Ken King is clearly describing a worst-case scenario: it’s just as likely that it’ll actually be colder here than it was in Edmonton in 2003, but far more likely than either of those cases is that conditions will be akin to those in Buffalo, Chicago, and Boston: cold enough to keep the ice, maybe get a touch of snow, but not so cold as to be bloody miserable. Actually, if I remember correctly, there was also a contingency plan in Edmonton, in case it got too cold for the ice to still be playable – the surface would get brittle and start shredding under the intense skating – but obviously, that never came to pass.

About Doug Stolhand 26976 Articles
Doug Stolhand is one of the co-founders and co-hosts of the Puck Podcast and has been a member of the NHL media since the show's inception in 2006.

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